A Christmas Carol


Dickens' A Christmas Carol


"Marley was dead: to begin with..."

Scrooge and Marley


So begins Dickens' "ghostly little book" in which we meet Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Cratchit family, the spirits of Christmas, and a host of other characters who have played a part in Scrooge's life. Dickens began writing his story, which is set in London, in October of 1843 and had it published just in time for Christmas of that year. Before we begin to read this well known story, we should try to understand the London Dickens was writing about. Through these pre-reading activities, you will learn about the setting of this novel. What was life like in London during the Victorian Era? Let's step back to a time before iPods, cell phones, automobiles, and television...back before electricity, central heating, free public education, and fair wage practices...back to London, 1843.





"I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it."

-Charles Dickens, December, 1843.


Choose one of the five research assignments below - you may assist each other, but each student must complete and submit an assignment. You can find examples of some of these projects on the Student Work page. When you have finished your assignment, you may complete the enrichment activity. As you choose your project (and your partner) keep your learning style in mind:

Design a Public Awareness Campaign - Victorian Workhouses

You have a choice of one of the following types of projects:

  • Brochure, flyer or pamphlet (Learning Style - Verbal, Interpersonal)
  • Poster (Learning Style - Visual, Interpersonal)
  • Press Release (Learning Style - Verbal, Interpersonal)
  • Song or rap (Learning Style - Musical, Interpersonal)
  • Power Point Presentation (Learning Style - Verbal, Visual, Interpersonal)

Click herepdf for assignment details.
Click here pdf for the assignment rubric.

Powy's Digital History Project - find information here such as why workhouses were built, who went to the workhouses, what type of work the inmates did, and why the inmates were so unhealthy.

The Workhouse - information about: workhouse life, rules and memories, workhouse staff and administration, and poor laws. Take a virtual workhouse tour!

The Learning Curve - information about the 1834 poor law and workhouses. Be sure to click the link for "Activity 2" for an interactive activity on the Poor Law and the workhouses.

Write a Persuasive Essay - What Really Caused the Cholera Epidemic?

Research the varying opinions of the people in Victorian London, form your own opinion and then write a persuasive essay on what you think caused the cholera epidemic and why. Use 1.5 line spacing and a 10-point, non-script font. (Learning Style - Intrapersonal)

Click herepdf for the assignment rubric.

Victorian Britain - A Healthy Nation? - information about the cholera epidemics. Click on the icons to view Victorian primary source documents. Be sure to click on the "Full Transcript" buttons if you cannot read the information in the source document image.

Health and Hygiene in the 19th Century - information about the symptoms of cholera, some of the treatments attempted, and the different theories about how it was spread.

Competing Theories of Cholera - information about the Miasma Theory, the Germ Theory, William Farr, and Dr. John Snow. Please click the link on the left side-bar for the John Snow site. Read the articles (yellow buttons) entitled "When Cholera Met its Match" and "The Handle". Then scroll down to the section entitled "Cholera Outbreaks" to continue your research.

Write a Compare/Contrast Essay - Christmas Traditions

Did you know that many of our Christmas traditions originated in Victorian England? Research their Christmas traditions, including the role of nature in the celebrations, then write an essay comparing and contrasting Victorian Christmas traditions with those in the United States today. Use 1.5 line spacing and a 10-point, non-script font. (Learning Style - Naturalistic)

Click here pdf for the assignment rubric.

Christmas in Victorian England - information on Christmas customs in the 19th century.

Victorian Christmas  - History of Christmas - information about the origins of some of our current Christmas traditions.

Dickens and Christmas - information about the decline of Christmas celebrations during the Industrial Age and how Dickens' Christmas stories revivied Christmas traditions.

Victorian Christmas Cards - information about the advent of the Christmas card, collecting Victorian Christmas cards, and the design of early Victorian Christmas cards which were always illustrated with nature scenes as the Victorians loved nature and the countryside. This site includes images of early Victorian Christmas cards.

Christmas Parlour Games - Learn to play Victorian Party games online! "Parlour" was to the Victorian what the living room is to us today. Learn the Ha Ha Game and the Blindfold Game. You may have heard of (or played) some Victorian Parlour games - such as Charades, Blind-Man's Bluff, and Twenty-Questions.

A Victorian Christmas - learn about seasonal decorations such as trees and holly, music makers, Father Christmas, Christmas presents, Christmas food, Boxing Day, the Christmas Pantomime, Christmas parties, the New Year, and Twelfth Night.

Create a Timeline - Victorian England from 1832 - 1843

Create a timeline of events during the Victorian Era in England from 1832 (the introduction of the Reform Act) to 1843 (the year Dickens' A Christmas Carol was published). Include detailed descriptions of each event. You may NOT simply copy the timelines from the following sources - your timelines must be done in your own words. (Learning Style - Logical/Mathematical)

Click here pdf for the assignment rubric.

Victorian Legislation: A Timeline- information about legislation introduced concerning such things as the poor, labor practices and health. This timeline spans from 1828-1897

Victorian Britain Timeline - information about Victorian Britain from 1837 to 1901 when Queen Victoria died. There are links within the timeline for additional information about Queen Victoria, Victorian children and education.

Workhouse Timeline - information about the workhouses in England spanning from 1349 to 1948. Information during the Victorian period in your timeline includes the Allotments Act, the Poor Law Amendment Act, the Vaccination Extension Act, and the Andover Workhouse scandal.

Construct a Model of a Victorian Street

View the Power Point presentation on Victorian Streets and research life in Victorian London using the sources linked to below. Write a summary (at least one paragraph) about what you learn. Use 1.5 line spacing and a 10-point, non-script font. You will be provided with templates and materials for constructing your buildings. (Learning Style - Bodily/Kinesthetic)

Click here pdf for the assignment rubric.
Click here ppt for the Power Point.


Charles Dickens' London - information about the London Charles Dickens knew - includes information about what the streets were like, about sanitation and disease, and the plight of London's poor.

Victorian London - information about life in London - crime, public buildings, shopping and the general atmosphere of the city. There is also a link to information about Victorian Houses.

Poverty and Families in the Victorian Era - information on the population increase, growth of the city, the search for employment, child labor, the housing shortage, poor sanitary conditions, and society's attitude toward the poor.

Victorian Children - some information wealthy children and the not so fortunate who had to work from an early age to help support the family.

19th Century Architecture- many images of building in Victorian Era London. There is also information about architectural styles of the period.

Enrichment Activity

Now that you know a little more about life in Victorian England, you will be more prepared to appreciate Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Click the following link to enter the Virtual Victorians site. Here you can read about a "Day in the Life" of a Victorian family. The "Themes Gallery" allows for virtual handling of original Victorian artifacts. Don't forget to check out the "Then and Now" activity in the "Victorian Legacy" section!

A Day in the Life follows the lives of Elizabeth and John Poslett, two factory workers living in Victorian England, during a typical week. This section of the website explores childhood, education, housing, working life, transportation, and liesure activities in Victorian England. The Posletts have six children: Eliza, Ellen, Alica, Frank, Mary, and Edwin.


To earn extra credit (up to 5 points added to project grade), write a diary entry for a day in the life of someone your age living in Victorian London. Use 1.5 line spacing and a 10-point, non-script font.









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